Biomass Plants Appeal To N.H. Supreme Court Amid Stalemate With Eversource, PUC

Apr 8, 2019

Credit Todd Bookman / NHPR

A group of wood-burning power plants wants the New Hampshire Supreme Court to intervene in a dispute over a controversial new state law.

The law, in part, would require Eversource to buy power from the state’s biomass plants at a discounted rate for three years.

It could cost ratepayers millions. But the state’s timber industry says it’s needed to sustain the biomass plants, which provide an important market for woodchips.

Legislators passed that law by one vote last year, overriding Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto.

Soon after, a lobbying group called the New England Ratepayers Association filed a complaint against the law with federal regulators. They argue its structure violates national energy policy.

Until that complaint is resolved, Eversource and the state Public Utilities Commission say the law can’t take effect.

In recent weeks, absent contracts with Eversource, some New Hampshire biomass plants have reportedly scaled down operations. Now, those plants are taking their case to the state’s highest court.

They filed an appeal of the latest PUC order with the state Supreme Court last Thursday, seeking a ruling that tells the PUC to make Eversource start buying their power.

There’s no hard deadline for the Supreme Court to decide whether to take up the appeal.